Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The MidEast Unhinged: Iran Rising

Netanyahu Raising Alarm on Iran, Again - Ben Caspit

An Israeli security official told his American counterparts in Washington, "Take heed, a few days before President Donald Trump arrived for his visit in Saudi Arabia in May, the rebels in Yemen fired missiles toward Riyadh. It's a clear message. The Iranians are already building the capacity to strike with surface-to-surface missiles across a huge belt in the region, which will strike fear among the Sunni regimes. Do you think the king of Jordan would survive this? That stability in Saudi Arabia will be maintained?"

"Whatever happens here after the war in Syria will shape the face of the Middle East, and perhaps the entire world, for generations. If the cease-fire agreement does not also include a Shiite retreat, a disaster will happen. You're disturbing the incredibly delicate balance in the Middle East. The immediate price will be paid by those who live here, but in the end, the bill, once again, will be sent to you."

An Israeli intelligence source noted, "The Iranians are the only ones who are working toward the long term. They are the only ones with a strategy in this sphere. They think and act like a world power."

Netanyahu sees the nuclear deal as a grave mistake whose ramifications will be suffered for generations. He believes his current warnings to Trump's staff and Russian President Vladimir Putin are like Winston Churchill's attempts to warn Europe and the West about the German threat in the late 1930s. As with the Iranian nuclear deal, the Israelis are making sure to tell the Americans, and also the Russians, that "if Israel's security needs won't be met in the cease-fire agreement in Syria, we'll act in other ways," the source said.

Iran Is Taking Over Syria. Can Anyone Stop It? - David W. Lesch

Since the civil war began in 2011, the government of Bashar al-Assad has relied on Iran and its proxies like the Lebanese Hizbullah to stay in power. If Syria's orientation toward Iran continues, Israel will feel that when it looks across the Golan Heights, it sees Iran staring back.

The Trump administration has so far seemed willing to cede Syria to Russia, but this really means ceding it to Iran. Moscow wants little more than to maintain its military bases in Syria. It will not actually provide a counterweight to Iran once the war is over. If the U.S. isn't interested in Syria and if Russia continues to focus solely on security issues, Iran will be dominant in Damascus. If Iran is the only party invested in Syria's future, the outcome could be catastrophic.
The writer is a professor of Middle East history at Trinity University in San Antonio.
(New York Times)

How to Get Out of the Nuclear Deal
-John Bolton

Defining a compelling rationale to exit Obama's failed nuclear deal and elaborating a game plan to do so are quite easy. In fact, Steve Bannon asked me in late July to draw up just such a game plan for the president.  Here it is. 
[Gatestone Institute]

Monday, August 28, 2017

Antifa Will Target Israel

Antifa & Israel - Amit Deri

Two weeks ago all decent people were shocked by the display of hatred and antisemitism by a group of neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

The good news is that when you actually look at the numbers, it is clear that we are only talking about a small fringe group that the overwhelming majority Americans are disgusted by.

However, even though the numbers are tiny, and even though there have been neo-Nazis in America for decades, the media has given this subject massive coverage, occasionally verging on the hysterical. Among other things, this type of media saturation makes it appear as if the US is in danger of being overrun by hordes of fringe neo-Nazi loonies.

This out-of-proportion coverage is now creating another problem, one that I believe will be far greater for American democracy. This problem in the making has to do with countering the exaggerated Nazi threat, a reaction that is likely to become even more overblown and dangerous than the problem it is intended to confront.

At the forefront of this fight stands “Antifa,” an international anti-fascist group. For them any role in the fight is legitimate. In its “ends justify the means” battle plan, Antifa is already morphing into a group whose behavior is indistinguishable from that of the neo-Nazis they are sworn to obliterate.

Any opposition to their radical Left agenda is to be dealt with by any means necessary. Even physical violence against police is legitimate.

Last week two well-known professors who are vocal BDS activists with anti-Israel views declared that they will help to open Antifa branches on many campuses across the US. Prof. David Palumbo-Liu of Stanford University and Prof. Bill Mullen of Purdue University are already receiving support from academics across America.

In recent rallies Antifa and its supporters have shown complete disregard for civil liberties and the fundamental rights of free speech and assembly. Provocative speakers such as Milo Yiannopoulos at Berkeley and Charles Murray at Middlebury College in Vermont were physically intimidated and harassed and forced to flee for safety.

But as bad as things are, they are bound to get worse.

The frightening scenario is that with all the Antifa organizing on US campuses and the eventual realization that there aren’t really Nazis on campus to shut down, there will inevitably be a witch hunt for others Antifa doesn’t like.

So these radical left-wing vigilantes will need to find another monster, “new Nazis.” It doesn’t take a wild imagination to supply the likely candidate: Israel. After all, Israel is 'colonialist, racist and the oppressor of the poor defenseless Palestinians.' Sure sounds like Nazis.

Thanks to intersectionality, where all oppression is somehow linked into the same oppression, Antifa is most likely to connect with other hate groups belonging to the BDS movement against Israel.

A revealing sneak preview of what to expect was seen this past week at protests in Boston. A non-Jewish activist dared to walk around wrapped in an Israeli flag among the anti-Right protesters. He was immediately surrounded by people screamed phrases such as “you are a Nazi,” and “get out of here!” With several thousand left-wing protesters confronting only a few hundred right-wing activists, it was difficult to even find any Nazis. Not to worry. Support for Israel serves the same purpose and deserves the same response.

In this sense Antifa is likely to follow the example of the group “Black Lives Matter” (BLM). 

Only by turning a blind eye can someone miss the significant violence Antifa is already causing in the US and Europe. But the future is likely to be far worse, as Antifa seeks out “fascists” of its own choosing and depiction.

Campuses are the main focus of radical left-wing groups, and they are becoming more and more violent and dangerous from year to year. Next year it is safe to say that we will probably see Antifa itself on many campuses.

We fear that much of their focus will be on Israel, and by extension Jewish students and non-Jewish supporters of Israel.

Advocating for Israel on US campuses is likely to become increasingly contentious and, dare I say it, dangerous in the coming years.
[Jerusalem Post]

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Growing Iranian Empire

Source: NYPost

Thwarting a New Iranian Empire - Dore Gold 

People do not understand what it means to leave Iran inside of Syria as currently envisioned by the Great Powers.

The Iranians established themselves in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon back in 1982 and in a few short years established Hizbullah, a guerrilla army that accepted the idea of Iranian domination and leadership of all Muslims. It served as a surrogate for Iran in the Middle East.

It was originally thought that if Israel withdrew from Lebanon, the Hizbullah problem would go away. But Israel did withdraw from Lebanon in 2000 and the Hizbullah threat only got worse because it had nothing to do with Israel. It had everything to do with Iranian regional ambitions.

Years ago, when the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was sitting with a high-level American official, he criticized U.S. policy in Iraq for having recreated the Safavid Empire. The Safavid Empire was the Persian Empire back in the 16th century.

It was then that Persian control stretched over parts of Syria; it covered Iraq including Baghdad; it went south into the Persian Gulf; it included the island of Bahrain; it stretched into half of Afghanistan and into what used to be referred to as Soviet Central Asia. This was a huge state that still exists in the fond memories of many in the Iranian leadership.

Just as Lebanon became a base for Iranian operations across the Middle East, leaving Iranian forces in Syria will create a challenge on a much greater scale. This will pose a direct threat to the future security of Israel as well as Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. 

The bottom line is: Iranian forces must be withdrawn from Syria back to Iran. If the Great Powers leave Iran in Syria, they are setting the stage for the next great crisis in the Middle East, which will be far larger than anything we have seen until now.
The writer, president of the Jerusalem Center, served as Israel's ambassador to the UN and director general of the Foreign Ministry.

(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Sudan Loves Israel?

Mubarak al-Fadil al-Mahdi says Palestinian Arabs screwed up

Sudanese Minister Calls for Normalization with Israel

Hamas expressed deep regret over statements by Sudan's Investment Minister Mubarak al-Fadil al-Mahdi, who called to normalize Sudan's relations with Israel.

In an interview with Sudania 24TV on Sunday, al-Mahdi said the Palestinians bear significant responsibility for what happened to them.
Sudan's Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour has also said his country wouldn't mind considering the possibility of normalizing ties with Israel.
In recent years, Sudan has cut relations with Iran and moved closer to Saudi Arabia and the moderate Arab camp. 
(Sudan Tribune)


Israel Seeks Saudi Flights Deal for Hajj Pilgrims 
Israel is trying to persuade Saudi Arabia to permit special Hajj pilgrimage flights to Mecca for its Muslim citizens, who now must endure a 1,000-mile bus route across the Jordan River and through the Saudi desert to reach Islam's most sacred shrine.

Israel's Communications Minister Ayoob Kara wants them to fly directly from Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion International Airport.  "Reality has changed," Kara said. "This is a good time to make the request, and I'm working hard on it."

About 6,000 Israeli Arabs make the Hajj journey every year, though only a few hundred are allowed to fly to Saudi Arabia from Jordan, Kara said.
(Bloomberg-Arabian Business)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Unholy Alliance: North Korea & Iran

North Korea's ICBM Test Is a Win for Iran - Ted Poe (National Interest)
  • North Korea's recent test of an intercontinental ballistic missile is a game changer. It holds the potential for North Korea to transfer this dangerous technology to another rogue regime, its longtime ally Iran. 
  • For years, experts have suspected North Korea as being the key supporter behind Iran's missile and nuclear programs. Today, many of the missiles Iran would use to target American forces in the Middle East are copies of North Korean designs. 
  • North Korean engineers are in Iran helping to improve its missiles to carry nuclear warheads, according to a report released last month by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the same opposition movement that exposed Tehran's secret nuclear facilities at Natanz and Arak in 2002. 
  • Iran is using North Korean blueprints to build as many as thirteen secret underground missile launch facilities and North Korean experts are assisting the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' efforts to develop nuclear warheads and guidance systems. 
  • This would enable Iran to launch nuclear weapons at the large U.S. bases in the Middle East that restrain Iran's expansionist ambitions. 
  • The missile tested by North Korea in July demonstrated an ability that could put American cities as far as Chicago within its nuclear crosshairs. With North Korea outpacing our own expert expectations, Iran will likely not be far behind.

    Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tex.) is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade.

- Emily B. Landau

Strong international actors cannot afford to be complacent about a negotiated deal when it does not reflect a strategic reversal on the part of the proliferator. 

If the Iran deal has achieved a delay, the challenge is to use this time to reverse negative trends and prepare better for the future, not to rest on one's laurels while celebrating a deal that has not stopped Iran in the nuclear realm, and could render that goal even more elusive in eight to nine years. 
(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)